Last reviewed 01/2018

The prognosis of ulcerative colitis:

  • a colectomy is curative
  • 70% of patients with untreated UC relapse annually
  • there is a 1% risk of the development of colonic cancer if someone has the disease for 10 years; in most UK centres, patients with extensive UC of 10 years' duration are offered colonoscopy every 1-2 years in an effort to prevent colonic cancer by taking multiple biopsies to look for mucosal dysplasia and to offer colectomy if appropriate, or to detect cancer at a curable stage (1)
  • there is a substantial variation in severity, extent and responsiveness, together with extra-intestinal and multiple intestinal manifestations
  • life-expectancy is similar to that of the general population
  • patients with well-controlled distal UC can be followed up routinely in primary care (will require a blood count and liver function test every 6-12 months, and referral for colonoscopy at 8-10 years to reassess disease extent) (1)

Ref: Prescribers' Journal (1997), 37(4), 220-31